Back from my first ever desert vacation

WillCAD
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Re: Back from my first ever desert vacation

Post by WillCAD » Sun May 03, 2009 6:54 am

Desert Cruiser wrote:Willcad: That post about the laptop was directed to Reptilist but I agree with you on the use of them in the desert. However I built a case out of an Aluminum case with foam padding (with nipples) for the inside and it has a good seal. We have used it in the desert and on trips but now have a 40gig Epson storage and viewer unit that runs on rechargeable Lithium Ion battery and AC for storing photos on a trip. Plus nowdays memory cards are so cheap you can have 6 - 1 gig. cards of for next to nothing. Back to the cameras -- the most important thing is a good lens. And for the Canons I really like the 17 - 40 L f4 and the 300 f4 IS lens the most. I have a 70 - 200 f4 L and 50 f1.4 and hardly every use them. The 17 - 40 is a great walk around lens, and nice for landscapes.

As for the 4x5 camera, I don't know what comes with that. Call their 800 number and ask? But that would be a brick to haul around. Getting prints done wouldn't be cheap either. There are no negatives with digital!

Don....
I still think it's not such a good idea to take a laptop or your Epson storave viewer into the desert with you. Even if you have them in ruggedized carry cases, the heat can still fry them rather quickly.

Ambient heat in the desert varies with time of year and time of day, but even if you keep the devices under wraps during the day and only use them in the cooler night temps, you still have a problem - the heat that they generate themselves.

Internal heat requires ventilation. And ventilation requires the devices to be removed from their protective cases. And once out of the protective cases, they will have to draw fresh air in and blow hot air out. And when they draw fresh air in, they'll also draw in dust, which will then cake the PCBs inside, eventually building up a blanket that will hold in the internal heat and fry them (side note - this happens in indoor, climate-controlled environments, too, just not as fast, which is why it's necessary to open the case of all electronics periodically and blow accumulated dust out with canned air).

Aside from the internal heat problem, if you store a device in a sealed, insulated (*any kind of padding will also act as insulation) container, the heat of the day will build up inside the device, even if the device is off. During the hottest part of the year, when temps in the desert exceed 100-degrees, the temps inside your padded containers can get even hotter if the containers are in direct sunlight (same as a car parked in the sun will get hotter than the ambient temp around it). This heat is the most dangerous; it can get hot enough inside electronics to soften solder and loosen connections, or deform plastic or silicon components (ever see a plastic car dash deformed by excessive heat?)

To be honest, I had serious trepidation about even taking my digital camera into the desert, since it's black and would get pretty hot under the sun. But since thousands of people take DSLRs into the desert every year, and failures don't appear to be epidemic (though they do happen), I figured I'd be okay for a week-long trip during the cooler spring period that I went. My camera did get hot to the touch while I was hiking in direct sunlight, but no more than it does when I spend a day at Walt Disney World in Orlando, so I guess that DSLRs are tough enough to take a little heat.

Computers, however, are a horse of a different color, and I'd never take my laptop on a desert excursion. I don't own one of those Epson photo viewers, so I don't know how well they'd hold up to the rigors. I wonder if there has ever been sustantial testing of those devices in hostile environments?

Desert Cruiser
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Re: Back from my first ever desert vacation

Post by Desert Cruiser » Sun May 03, 2009 8:22 pm

Willcad: Yes they have been tested extensively! By who you ask. Why me of course, and reptilitst, plays in the dirt, and many more on here. I personally live in Yuma, AZ year round. It's the hottest area in the USA. that you could find in the summer. Tomorrow it'll hit 103 here and this summer a lot of days will hit over 115 and sometimes as high as 120 or slightly more. I've spend 6 years here traveling in the desert in the summer and had no (with one exception) problem with computer gear, including cameras, viewers, and storage units, laptops. The one exception --- during really hot days a cameras sensor will get hot and create hot pixels, noise, and other artifacts that you don't normally see on cooler days. Now I've used my 350D (mostly that camera) for 6 years now with no negative effects, also the same applies for the laptop (8 years old) and the viewer is 4 years old. The viewer doesn't have a fan so drawing in dust is not a problem. Also leaving a camera out in the sun INSIDE a vehicle is a no no. But if it's covered it'll survive just fine. Believe me my gear has been put to extremes. Ask reptilist as his home area is extremely hot also. Another thing most don't realize. When riding with the air on in a vehicle while hauling camera gear --- I've had it fog up immediately after leaving the cool vehicle. Now we don't use the air on a photography trip unless it's over 112 deg out. When I first moved here I bought the Canon 350D and had a choice between a black one or a silver one --- chose the silver one, just like you, not being used to the extremes here I thought it would help the camera. But after carrying it around for a few hours last summer I noticed that I couldn't hardly touch it. Then we got a flat and had to change a tire. We had to put gloves on to handle the jack and crank handle. TRUE! It was 117. The camera stills works great. I can also vouch for Nikon gear as being good for the same kind of abuse.

Don....

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Pharo
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Re: Back from my first ever desert vacation

Post by Pharo » Sun May 03, 2009 10:42 pm

WillCAD wrote: I still think it's not such a good idea to take a laptop

Ambient heat in the desert varies with time of year and time of day, but even if you keep the devices under wraps during the day and only use them in the cooler night temps, you still have a problem - the heat that they generate themselves.
Just get the right laptop, while heat can be an issue dust is not really a problem. I've seen desktops running on a casino floor for years that were so full of dust you couldn't even see the motherboard when you popped the case. All you could see was the peripheral cards sticking up through the blanket of dust, Don’t get me wrong, they were giving errors but a trip outside with a can of air and they were back in operation and are still in operation today.

But if you're going to take a laptop out in the sticks, get one made to do it. Just take a can of air with you and blow it out once or twice a week. I own the one in the link and while it’s not the fastest computer I own it does hold up well out in the desert.

Remember a computer is nothing more then a tool. Pick the right tool for the right job then maintain your tools and you won’t have a problem.

http://www.panasonic.com/business/tough ... ebooks.asp

Later,

PBiZ

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Re: Back from my first ever desert vacation

Post by reptilist » Mon May 04, 2009 7:20 am

When it comes to packing for Safari, I leave my Apple MacBook Pro at home.
I would like to take it to athletic/school functions though, if I could tether to it and make a pic print right there on the table.
For now, my customers must order, pay, and wait for delivery.

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Re: Back from my first ever desert vacation

Post by Desert Cruiser » Mon May 04, 2009 12:31 pm

Terry: I have a friend who is a whitewater guide and does exactly what your wanting to do. He used his digital camera and then after the trip he prints 4x6's for the customers and sells them on the spot. He uses a small Canon printer and inserts the card directly into it --- it has it's own LCD for viewing the photos. He's gone now (Back in Idaho I think). But he's had a lot of success with it. Of course they even have portable printers for larger sizes and you know your Cruiser has a 400 AC outlet in the back!

Oh yeh and for anyone interested: The Epson viewers do come with a nice nylon case and stand for viewing the photos. You can run them as a slideshow also. It accepts a lot of different types of cards and now they make them with different size hard drives. At $500 it great deal for vacations. The 4 inch screen is great too. It will also play back your small cameras video. http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/epsonp2000/

Don....

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Re: Back from my first ever desert vacation

Post by reptilist » Mon May 04, 2009 4:27 pm

Thanks Don!

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